Beer and Bacon: It’s What’s for…Everything

We’re celebrating International Bacon Day this Labor Day Weekend with bacon and beer pairings and these great-tasting bacon-flavored beers.

Libby Murphy Dec 29, 2016 - 8 min read

Beer and Bacon: It’s What’s for…Everything Primary Image

Bacon. It’s unquestionably the singularly best food to be discovered. Ever. You can add it to everything from salads to Bloody Marys to desserts, eat it all by itself, and even put it on top of other meat (think bacon cheeseburger). And if you’ve got guests coming but the dinner you cooked turns out to be a disaster, just throw a pound of bacon in a frying pan, cut it into pretty bacon confetti, and sprinkle that heavenly greasiness on whatever you made that sucked. Guaranteed fix. I promise.

We have the ancient Chinese to thank for creating the first prototypes of bacon, but the Romans had their version, too. The bacon moniker was dubbed in the 1700s, and now the word rolls off the tongue so easily, just saying it is practically an aphrodisiac. It’s such a wonderful thing, in fact, that a whole 24 hours every year are dedicated to it, and that happens to be tomorrow (December 30).

So, gentle reader, before you proceed, make an appointment with your cardiologist, do twenty sit-ups, and eat a few salads. It’s time to get your bacon on.

Beers to Pair with Bacon

Seriously? Bacon and beer? It’s a match made in heaven, and with all the styles of bacon out there, you’re sure to find a match you’ll like. I’ll get you started with three of the most commonly found breeds of American bacon out there, and you can take your bacon-and-beer explorations from there.


Peppery Bacon

Salty and spicy, peppery bacon goes beautifully with foods that don’t compete with the spice. When paired with fruit (tomatoes included), creamy foods, and even chocolate, it makes for a great balance. The spice is tempered and supported by the other more subdued flavors and doesn’t have to compete with other foods that are vying for attention.

The same goes for your beer. You want something to temper the heat a bit. Think of softer and more supporting tones that you’ll find in Pilsners, peppery saisons, and wheats, and if you like some sweet with your spice, pair it with a tart, fruity sour.

Maple Bacon

You know anything you can drizzle on top of a pancake is going to taste awesome. Put maple on bacon, and it creates a salty-sweet love affair that’ll have you reaching for another slice before the first one is gone. Like bacon, maple is pretty versatile, so you can take some different approaches. Tip the scales a bit with the sweetness in your bacon and your beer or balance things out with some stronger, more roasty flavors.

If you like something sweet and citrusy like an old-fashioned, try an orangey witbier or a saison, and if you like a little spice to shake things up, a blood orange IPA will hit the spot. Or try a Belgian Quad or a nutty brown. But if you’re in the group who loves a strong cup of joe to get the engines purring the morning, reach for a super roasty stout—some even have notes of maple in them, which will create an explosion of flavor.


Hickory Smoked Bacon

Smoked meat is ridiculously good. You not only get the flavors and juice from the meat, but also the flavors of the wood and smoke. Hickory trees produce nuts, which, when compared to fruit-bearing trees, impart a smokier flavor—and hickory is one of the smokiest flavored woods out there. Foods that go well with this type of bacon include meat: chicken, beef, and salmon are my personal favorites. And of course, my other favorite drink, coffee.

As for your beer choices, roasty coffee stouts are even more tasty with hickory-smoked bacon. And if you want to fight smoke with…er, more smoke, grab yourself a rauchbier. The citrusy spiciness of an IPA would also work very well.

Bacon Beers

Luckily for all of us, brewers have combined the loveliness of bacon and beer. Because who wants to live in a world where nobody’s thought to do that? These beers have been brewed to have notes of bacon in them, even though none of them has actual bacon in it.

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (Paso Robles, California): Our blind tasting panel loved this black rye IPA, giving it a high-rated 93, and said it’s “roasty with a hint of smoked meat, almost bacon-like, but balanced with a sweet citrus and pine hops character.” It’s big and roasty, with peppery rye, and lots of smoked earthiness.


Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter (Oakland Park, Florida): This was a gold medal−winning beer at the 2016 World Beer Cup, and it’s basically breakfast in a glass. You get your maple syrup, your coffee, some salted chocolate, and lots of rich smokiness. It even has some rich stickiness on the finish! It’s one of Funky Buddha’s small-batch releases, and you can find it in January on tap and in bottles at the brewery.

Mikkeller Beer Geek Bacon/Rauch Geek Breakfast (Copenhagen, Denmark): While this version of their Beer Geek Breakfast isn’t actually brewed with bacon, the smokiness is rich and meaty and gives the impression of washing down a plateful of bacon with a cup of dark-roasted coffee. Close your eyes and you’ll taste a bit of maple syrup in the background, as well as some chocolate chip pancakes.

Jack’s Abby Fire in the Ham (Framingham, Massachusetts): This is a lager so smoky you’ll think you took a wrong turn into a forest fire. The malt was smoked over blazing beechwood to ramp up the roastiness, and once you take a sip you’ll know you’ve found true bliss, with the smoked ham and bacon notes. Just like eating bacon cooked on a campfire. This vegan-friendly beer is available in the brewery annually in July, so plan your travel accordingly!

Legal Remedy Brewing Malice Maple Bacon (Rock Hill, South Carolina): This stout is full of super everything. It’s a Russian imperial stout that has a whopping 11 percent ABV, it’s dark as midnight, and it has a nice and bitter 46 IBUs. When you partake in this delight, you can taste a nice bit of maple, with a touch of smoked bacon at the end of the sip.

Get 84 new recipes made with beer as well as successful cooking and pairing tips from Tired Hands Brewing and learn to brew with seasonal ingredients with beer recipes from Scratch Brewing in Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®’s 2016 issue of Cooking With Beer. Order your copy today!